” How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? ” Ps. 13:1
There are times when God is silent. Often it is in our darkest moments when fear and confusion flood us with panic or despair. Why does this happen? Shouldn’t those be the times when he comes in power and might and convinces us of his love? Yet, it is at precisely those times that God is closest. If we wait it out, there is often a rich blessing on the other side. If we walk away, we erect a wall between ourselves and God that is sometimes difficult to break down.
The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:
2 Judah mourns and her gates languish; they lie in gloom on the ground, and the cry of Jerusalem goes up.
3 Her nobles send their servants for water; they come to the cisterns, they find no water, they return with their vessels empty.
They are ashamed and dismayed and cover their heads, because the ground is cracked.
Because there has been no rain on the land the farmers are dismayed; they cover their heads.
5 Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn because there is no grass.
6 The wild asses stand on the bare heights, they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail because there is no herbage.
7 Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name’s sake; our apostasies indeed are many,
and we have sinned against you.
8 O hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler turning aside for the night?
9 Why should you be like someone confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?
Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us,and we are called by your name; do not forsake us!
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
A Franciscan father shared with me a story of the silence of God. “I was told that I had a 50% chance of surviving my bout with pneumonia,” he said. “In the night, I called out to God to speak to me and give me assurance. But it was quiet. Nothing. Later, when I spoke with my spiritual director, he told me: ‘In times of silence, God is saying, what you need now, my child, is rest.’”
We interpret silence as a lack of attention, when in fact, it may be just the opposite. Seeing a mother watch her newborn child as she sleeps, or sitting by your husband while he recovers from surgery may not seem like love in action, but just being present speaks volumes.
In our daily walk with the Lord, we have difficulty listening because we seldom stop asking for healing, help and blessings in our short prayers. We are threatened by and dread long pauses in the pastor’s petitions. My husband and I have started going to a “day away” at the retreat centre near our home. It is a day of silence set aside for us to write, read, reflect and go on long walks with the Lord. The first time, I approached the day with dread. I have a hard time praying more than 5 minutes. But I was empty and wanted to meet with God. Instead he met with me in the silence. As I began to write and pause to hear what he was saying, I found inner healing and renewal. By the end of the day, it was as though I had been to a spiritual spa. These special days have now become a permanent event on our calendar. We look forward to the gift of time to reset our lives and give God space to work.
The morning star is the brightest star in the darkest part of the night, just before the dawn. Silence precedes blessings.
Lord, Help us to pause and give you space to speak to us. . . Amen